In April 2019 we returned to Sierra Leone for our fifth mission at the Connaught and Sierra Leone Police hospitals in Freetown. This mission like the others before it, was geared towards providing immediate relief to patients through free surgeries, conduct training and knowledge transfer sessions and donating equipment and supplies. The surgeries were general and orthopedic in nature with the Police Hospital limited to general surgeries only while both general and orthopedic surgeries were conducted at the Connaught Hospital.
Only general surgical procedures were conducted at the Police Hospital. This was the first time in the history of the hospital that surgeries were conducted there. The mission at the Police Hospital was a watershed moment for the department which had been on a long road to revitalizing its health care delivery system to the Police officers and their family with the addition of a surgical component. SLI is proud to have played a significant role in helping the Sierra Leone Police leadership achieve this goal which was as a result of a constructive collaboration and partnership over the two and half years in training and equipment supplies.
The team of 25 volunteers were headed by surgeons Dr. Karl Riggle, Dr. Sunirmal Ghosh and Dr. Thomas Knutson. The volunteer medical team in collaboration with volunteer resident hospital medical staff performed 103 surgeries (35 at Police Hospital and 68 at Connaught Hospital) within 5 operating days (April 29 through May 3). The surgical procedures varied in complexity and met the mission's goal of performing complex cases as well as addressing common cases and those that have a high educational value. The 103 patients who ranged in age from 2 to 65 years were given vital surgical care, including but not limited to exploratory laparotomy, hernia repairs, hydrocelectomies, closed and open reduction internal fixations and subtotal thyroidectomies. A quarter of the surgical cases were orthopedic in nature and include several complex bone reconstructive surgeries and repairs.
The training component of the mission comprise of hands-on bedside (pre-op, post-op) and operating room instructions and classroom format sessions. The formal classroom training sessions were conducted at the Police Hospital and were on critical care (First Aid and BLS). Training was provided to 102 participants of which 80% were active police officers and the rest medical professionals at the Police Hospital. Active training was also conducted in the use of a GE Flex View 8800 C-arm X-ray machine at Connaught (SLI donated in April 2018) and for a GE Datex Ohmeda Aestiva 5 MRI Anesthesia Machine at the Police Hospital (donated in April 2019). Donations in equipment and supplies during this April 2019 Mission was equivalent to $36,000.
We would like to say thank you to the resident medical teams at both the Connaught and Police hospitals especially Dr. Boima, Dr. Lavallie and Matron Deen at Connaught Hospital and Dr. M. Jalloh, Dr. Fillie and Dr. Munu at the Police Hospital. This mission was a success only because of the support we received from these individuals.